...but most especially Spring...
I love to tell you my secrets.
The very secrets that as a Not-Yet-A-Yeti
I swear to keep sacred...
...except for the ones I posted on the Internet.
I love Spring.
This past weekend we turned the clock hands and sprang forward.
The same weekend snow was in the forecast.
But today the sun is shining, temperatures are rising, and I swear I can almost taste it.
The coming of Spring...and the taste on my tongue is sweet.
Or maybe the the taste on my tongue is sweet because I just chomped down on a delectable little chocolate bonbon.
Chocolate. Rich and pure, lick your lips, OMG it's good. Chocolate.
I spent these past few dark and cold and weather wearying months... engrossed in heavy, serious, ponderous...
...dark and deep long winter night novels.
Enough. I say. Lighten up I say.
I pulled a book off the shelf at Border's, attracted simply by the box of chocolate on the front cover.
A chocolate addict needing a fix and right there on page one a dark, milk, creamy ivory bonbon book about chocolate...
Oui. C'est bon.
My sweetest memories of chocolate involve walking home from church, a white paper sack in hand, and the sound of my own footsteps on the sidewalk, far far from the Eiffel Tower, or the shores of the Seine, but under the same spring sky, and my young untraveled self licking the melting chocolate off the tips of my fingers.
From what I read in my new best friend, the book of chocolat, I take it that the French take their chocolate very seriously.
So do I.
I started my apprenticeship at a very young age with only a dime in my pocket on a walk to the local grocer. At the back of the store, closest to the register, a multi-tiered assortment of wooden drawers filled with penny candies. Red licorice rolls, black licorice rolls, paper sheets covered in pastel polka dots, lemon drops, root beer barrels and more. But I was searching for the real deal, the don't mess with success formula wrapped in foil with a paper tail. Kisses. Hershey Kisses. Sweet, one per penny, kisses.
One. On my tongue. Melting slowly. Mmmm.
And then...Andies Candies came to town. A block off the main square, by the park with the statues, only one crosswalk away, a warm Sunday stroll past the closed shop windows, the smell of chocolate wafting out the open door. Inside, I remember red. Everything red. The wallpaper a deep red brocade. The booths a dark cherry leather. The glasses for sodas, liquid red on sturdy stems. The counter deep cerise. And there, in the regal surroundings, encased in polished glass cases, on silver platters lined with red cloth napkins, the candy. Stacked in geometric patterns, wrapped in crinkled paper bonnets, milk and dark and cherry filled or topped with just a sliver of sugared orange zest. So very very expensive. So much more than a mere penny a taste. However on the bottommost shelf, the purist's delight. Break up chocolate. Left over pieces from the molds. Left over just for me. Two pieces for a quarter. Just enough for the long walk home in the soft spring sunshine.
Spring showers bring May flowers. Ah yes, but sometimes, those luckiest of times, right before May turns the the corner, there is a shower and if you are an optimist, a believer in wishes and dreams. there on the corner, right under the rainbow, chocolate dreams do come true.
And now a reverential pause, for what was then, the very best chocolate in the world, or at least for me, far from France, the best chocolate in Chicago.
It was the best. Back then. Back in the day. In my little corner of the world, on a Sunday Spring morn, I crossed the threshold and never looked back. Inside, a simple shop, white walls, white tile floor, the candy sorted into white wicker baskets, one long row of baskets. No more. Again a simple yet elegant white paper bag, but now for a dollar, four dark chocolate vanilla butter creams.
I can taste them right now as I write and I may have to jump off the blog long enough to order a box. I think my hands are shaking at the mere thought of that white box here on my desk and all sense of self-control and reason abandoned.
Ah. Non! Mon Amie Doux.
I am not a chocolate snob.
I have room in my heart for Mars Bars and Snickers and M&M's.
Let's face it. Easter is just around the corner and I cannot recall ever scratching around under the green plastic grass and turning up my nose at the last little chocolate morsel on the bottom. I have friends, dear darling acquaintances who stalk the candy shelves once a year for the Cadbury Creme Eggs that once the bunny hops, are gone for the season.
So, some food for thought. A little sweet talk for your sweet tooth.
Thoughts spring to mind.
Thoughts of Spring and new beginnings.
Because, for me, Spring is as sweet as chocolate.
Tiny shoots sprouting through the barren ground. Buds on the tips of trees. The soft pastels a balm to the house bound soul. The hint of a good long stretch just before you rise, the smile on the edge of your lips as you pull the bow off the tissue wrapped package. Good things are coming.
The sweet sweet scent of Spring.
A reward for your winter patience.
A reminder that like chocolate, Spring must be savored to be enjoyed.
So, why not take your chair outside and a little white paper bag filled with one or two of your favorite treats. Let the sun wash over your naked toes, be still enough to hear robins building nests in the gutters, cooing over their baby blue eggs, and think one simple thought.
Or as they say in France...delicioux.
Chapter 20-The Yard Yetis A Gardener's Tale